I know a load of business people who have it totally round the wrong way. They hide behind a computer screen thinking that their killer website and flawless code is going to make them money – that they’ll never need to sell. These guys normally go out of business pretty quickly. At some point, you need to sell.
At our business the London School of Attraction we do a hell of a lot of selling: we sell to clients who buy high-end coaching packages worth thousands of pounds; we sell advertising space to companies and we sell our story to journalists so they’ll feature us in their publications. If we couldn’t sell we’d go out of business.
Now I’ve convinced you of the centrality of selling to business success, her are our top five tips for selling:
1. Pick Your Battles
Success in sales isn’t just about hard work, a great product and personal charm. It’s about deciding who to spend your time selling to.
Before we sell ad space on our site, we’re happy to spend a good chunk of time deciding who to go after. We always ask ourselves the same questions: is our readership a good fit for this sector? Can they afford our advertising? Do they advertise in this way? Can we add them genuine value?
Chasing the wrong leads can incur significant opportunity cost, so spend some time deciding where your time will be best put to use.
2. Qualify Your Leads
Inexperienced salesmen tend to go after every lead and flog it to death, ending up wasting time on cold or lapsed leads. Experienced salesmen are confident enough to qualify their leads; then they focus their limited time and energy on people who are ready to buy
We get loads of e-mails every day asking questions about our coaching. If we called every one, we’d never have time for anything else. Instead, we send them a quick e-mail asking a few more questions about what they’re looking for. Once they reply, and invest time in the process, we decide whether they seem like someone who would buy a programme.
For every 100 e-mails we speak to maybe 30. Of these we sell to well over 70%. Not calling everyone may cost us the odd sale, but it saves us huge amounts of time. What’s more, it makes the calls to prospective clients more consultative than hard sell.
3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Whenever you’re selling, ask yourself: “What does this person want?” It sounds like advice that’s too simple to be useful, but you’d be amazed how many people get caught up in the features of what they’re selling, rather than the benefits to whoever they’re selling to.
When we sell advertising space, we never lose sight of the fact that the client wants increased sales. When we sell coaching courses, we never forget that the client wants to feel more confident with the opposite sex. When we sell to journalists, everything is centred around making sure they get compelling copy with the minimum of fuss.
Don’t get caught up in how great your product is or how sophisticated your service is. Start with the benefits.
4. Plan Plan Plan
Before you even pick up the phone to make a sale, you should know roughly what’s going to happen.
Sales calls are organic, and can go in many directions, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth planning. We always have a script for our sales. We look at how the conversation may go and take the prospect through pre-determined steps. Of course these tactics don’t always work, but solid preparation has closed us many sales over the past few years.
Here are some things you can plan:
1. Look at every imaginable objection and come up with an answer
2. Make sure your pitch is razor sharp
3. Make sure each call ends with some form of call to action
5. Hire Lead Generators
It’s not the most glamorous aspect of selling, but never underestimate the importance of getting the right details for a real decision-maker. You can spend hours on the phone without talking to someone who can actually make a buying decision. As the driving force behind your business, this isn’t always a great use of your time.
Instead, go online and spend a few pounds hiring a competent lead generator who can set up sale appointments. Of course it’s important to get the right person and give them good direction. But once the system is in place, you’ll find plenty better uses of your time than sitting on hold for four hours every day.